In spite of increasing interest in income polarization among researchers in Nigeria, there is dearth literature on its existence among undergraduate students especially with the primary data. It is argued that a polarized income distribution among the students has the potential of breeding tension and social unrest, protest or demonstration if not checked.
This study examined the existence of income polarization and inequality among undergraduate students of University of Ibadan. University of Ibadan was used as case study since all categories of social classes can be found among the students of this institution and the newly introduced “no-cooking” policy of the University management has direct effect on students’ monthly income and expenditure distribution. The study made use of primary data obtained through structured questionnaire. A two-stage random sampling technique was employed in selecting 280 respondents of which 277 was successful for analysis after data cleaning. The first stage was the purposive selection of a block each from all the ten undergraduate halls of residence in the University. The second stage was the random selection of respondents from randomly selected rooms from each chosen block. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the socioeconomic characteristics of respondents. Duclos-Esteban-Ray (DER) (2008) polarization index and Generalised Entropy (GE) inequality index were used to estimate income polarization and inequality respectively. The average age of respondent was 23.3 years. In 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 academic sessions, the average monthly incomes were N12,449.28 and N16,172.10 respectively while the average monthly expenditures were N16,077.26 and N22,205.96 respectively. Income polarization and inequality decreased among all the students between the two observed years. Income polarization (α = 0.5) decreased from 0.2287 to 0.2058 while income inequality decreased from 0.2402 to 0.1586. Highest polarization estimate of 0.2117 was obtained between male and female. In 2011/2012, female (0.2032) was polarized than male (0.1987) while male (0.1893) was slightly polarized than female (0.1836) in 2012/2013 session.
Within dimension however, the highest and least identification estimates (0.9069 and 0.7462) were from non-scholarship/bursary and female students respectively. In order to prevent a situation where the students will ride on their increasing homogeneity brought about by “no-cooking” policy to protest against poor and unfriendly environment, good quality services in terms of food and other items that students paid for on the campus are therefore advocated.
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